Review: Blood and Bone [2009] - dir. Ben Ramsey

The last time 'urban' cinema had an authentic martial arts hero was in the 1970's in the 'super-fly' form of Jim Brown, for the past three decades 'chop-socky' action movies have been the exclusive preserve of caucasian or asian protagonists... until now! Finally this under achieving niche has a saviour in the majestic shape of 'Black Dynamite' himself Michael Jai White, and with Blood and Bone his martial arts credentials assertively ascribe him to the pantheon of golden age masters like Seagal, Van Damme & their breed.

Isaiah Bone (White) is liberated from prison and expeditiously accesses the world of underground fighting. With the able assistance of urban 'ring-master' Pinball (Dante Basco), Bone, of course, wins several small time tussles easily and attracts the attention of local crime baron James (Eamonn Walker). James is conveniently impressed and urges Bone to fight for arms dealer, and underground fighting's uber commandant, Mr. McVeigh (Julian Sands). But little do James and his superior know that Bone has been contriving all of these moves fastidiously to allow him the opportunity to enact his own vengeance driven agenda.

With a spirited, bellicose title, recognisable lone protagonist plotline and a craftsmanship that harkens back (in a very commendable way) to those adrenaline fueled early Steven Seagal flicks, Blood and Bone is without a doubt the foremost early 90s action movie of the 21st Century. Before you jump on that as a disparaging statement, it is a BIG positive. Who amongst us can disregard the fun of watching Bloodsport. Nico and Marked for Death for the first time, and ambling out of the cinema feeling like you could have taken on the world single handed (or at least a couple of erstwhile delinquents), this is what every exemplary action martial arts movie should do, and on that front Blood and Bone delivers in spades.

The plot is a cohesive, full-bodied chunk of classic Van Damme revenge movie and it declaratively delivers in the full-tilt action department easily. Jai White, an outrageously accomplished martial artist, is thankfully given ample screen time by director Ben Ramsey in which to evince his expertise, artistry and equanimity on the physical front, all of which culminate in a tempestuous, mixed martial arts masterclass against "Pretty Boy" Price (Matt Mullins), Mr. McVeigh's $5M prize fighter.

Acting wise, Jai White is commendable as the iconic revenge impelled loner Bone, albeit the best performance comes from Englishman Eamonn Walker as the Genghis Khan quoting (makes a change from miscreants spouting Tsun Tsu) gangster who adores his dogs and disallows any and all blaspheming within his organisational ranks. Walker manages to decisively expurgate any memories of his Oz character, Kareem Said, once and for all, and I'm unequivocal in the fact that we'll see him utilised more and more in urban cinema. The supporting cast is rounded out with an assemblage of MMA heavyweights including Maurice Smith, Gina Carano, "The Beast" Bob Sapp and Kimbo Slice, delivering a sterling performance as jail house thug J.C..It would be negligent of me to passover the refined and captivating work from Nona Gaye too, here being both vulnerable and bewitching in what is plausibly her best role since that of Charlene Taylor Frank in 2005's The Gospel, woefully Ramsey fails to broaden on her backstory, which I arbitrarily feel is short sighted and could have heightened the film well beyond it's action movie roots into something deeper and more unifying.

In the words of Jim Brown's Black Belt Jones... "I'm gonna make you sweat one way... and then the other." this film will categorically do that and more.

(Review copy kindly supplied by Premier PR)


Post a Comment